Skip to content

Register Now to Meet this Year’s Heroes of the Environment

WATCH THE 2022 AWARD CEREMONY

Gold Mining in Poor Communities: Sweet for Gold Traders, Bitter for Child Workers

December 20, 2011

While kids throughout the US were trick-or-treating for sweets during Halloween this year, 2009 Goldman Prize winner Yuyun Ismawati was busy distributing chocolate gold coins to UN delegates in Nairobi as part of her campaign to protect communities from the environmental damage and contamination that comes with small-scale gold mining, which makes deliberate use of mercury.

“Gold mining in poor communities is sweet for gold traders but bitter for children. The true price of gold will never equal the cost of brain damage, contaminated communities, and the impacts of child labor,” she said.

Citing findings from a report from the International Labour Organization, Ismawati and colleagues at IPEN urged the treaty to focus not only on reducing and eliminating the usage of mercury, but more importantly, on protecting people’s health from its damaging effects as well. According to the study , there are about 115 million children working in hazardous mines; more than half are clinically diagnosed with severe mercury poisoning.

Related Posts

What Environmental Justice Means—and Why it Matters


January 4, 2022

Environmental activism isn’t just about protecting the natural world—it’s also about protecting people. Nowhere is this concept better illustrated than with the environmental justice movement. At its most basic level, environmental justice asserts that environmental issues and social justice are inextricably linked. What is Environmental Justice? Environmental justice is the idea that people of all…

Read more

Prize Winners Today: How Hilton Kelley is Building Community against a Backdrop of Environmental Injustice


October 19, 2021 – By Ellen Lomonico

The day before our interview, environmental justice champion Hilton Kelley (United States, 2011) was celebrating his granddaughter’s birthday—“the big 10.” With powerful, broad shoulders and a thick, white beard, it’s easy to see how the former actor embodies the role of a slightly intimidating but nonetheless jovial grandfather. It’s a responsibility that he holds for…

Read more

How Grassroots Environmental Activism Has Changed the Course of History


September 1, 2021

Environmental activism is more mainstream today than ever before. In the last several years, activists like Greta Thunberg have become media stars and household names; national news outlets have ramped up their coverage of climate campaigns; and politicians have become increasingly outspoken about how environmental issues affect policy decisions. The surge in awareness of environmental…

Read more